Brett Hammett - A Meeting for the Children - Maroota II, Australia Convention - January 7, 2007

Matthew 10:11, "Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide . . And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you." At the last convention we heard that willingness and worthiness are directly related. I wonder if you can read into these verses, "enquire who is willing . . and if the house be willing?" It makes good sense. Not only are willingness and worthiness directly related, but peace is part of it, too. Peace comes when you are willing to invite God's servants into your home. It makes the dwelling worthy and I think you all experience that continually. It is a great privilege for us to preach the gospel and see this result.

In this meeting, I am going to speak directly to the young ones and children. You have done very well in the convention, just listening, and I know that sometimes what is being said is a little difficult for a child to understand. Maybe after the meetings you ask your parents, "What was that worker talking about?" and they explain it to you. Well, this meeting is going to be the other way around and your parents might ask you, "What was that worker talking about?"

Where I labour in South America, there are a lot of little children in the meetings. Some of the places we visit are in the jungle. You know what a jungle is like. We get to walk through mud, and you children will understand how much we enjoy that! It is quite a ways to walk and we carry a little backpack with our things so we can spend the night with a family that is waiting for us. We don't have to wear a tie and meeting clothes, really. We get to wear our "play" clothes and we can get them dirty. When we get to the home, we need a bath, so we go to the river, and you will understand how much we enjoy that, too. Another thing we like is that sometimes we get to sleep on the floor, like when you go to your grandparents' house and there aren't enough beds, so you sleep on the floor, and you like that.

At one place, there is a little monkey and this monkey and I have a really good friendship. I pat him and give him a biscuit, and sometimes when I am asleep on the floor, the monkey is right there next to me. So, we get to preach the gospel in places like that and we love it. Sometimes when we get to a home, it is probably like when the workers come to your home.

Those children don't go anywhere because they don't have a car. They can't just go to town. The highlight of the month is when the workers come, and they are waiting for us. All month long they have been thinking about what they will show us and tell us about. Maybe they have some new puppies or chicks or guinea pigs, and we get to hold them. Or maybe we have to see how big the rooster has grown in the last month.

But that isn't all. After dinner is finished at night, we have a little meeting and we don't use lights like these because there aren't any. All they have is some little oil lamps, so we read our Bibles by oil lamp with the children. Some of their parents have never gone to school and can't read very well, so the children - just like you - help us out. They can pronounce better than I can because I am a foreigner there. We get them to very simply read some verses that apply and then we speak about them, and even the children understand.

Sometimes we want to tell them a little bit about how we are responsible for our actions. I think you are learning from your parents that you are responsible for your actions. It is the same with God. When we do something good, there is a reward and when we are bad, God isn't so pleased. These people don't even understand that concept, so the children help us out.

Do you still use a regular pencil at school? In Malachi 3:16, we read that God has a book of remembrance and in Revelation 21:27, it tells us that God has another book - the book of life. We like to tell people about these, and to explain it we use something very simple. I don't know what is in the book of remembrance, but the point is that we are responsible to God for the things we do. Maybe God is writing down the things that are good, but then when we do something wrong, He takes that pencil and writes down that we didn't do so well. Then we explain what forgiveness is. What are the two parts of a pencil? One part is what you write with and the other part is the eraser. God has made provision in the eraser and if we are sorry for the sins we do, like when you children say you are sorry and that you didn't mean it, then God uses the other side of the pencil to erase what we have done wrong. I think you can understand that, but maybe it is too simple for your parents? That is the way we have to begin speaking to the people there.

We also tell them that God, with that same pencil, wants to write something on our hearts. Maybe we also tell them that we really don't want to continue in sin because, when you are using the eraser part, are you able to write at the same time? No, because it is on the opposite end of the pencil. You can't erase and write at the same time. So, when God is erasing all our mistakes it is pretty hard for Him to be writing on our hearts until it is all clean. Right after that is when He can write the best on our hearts. We also ask the children, "What part of a pencil wears out the quickest? Is it the part you write with or the eraser?" Every one of them says, "It is the eraser." I don't know why they don't make pencils with erasers that long!

So we speak to these families like that and the children help us. The best part of those visits is not because we get to hold the new little chicks or take a bath in the river, or even the meetings. There is one part that is even better. When God's servants leave homes like that, it is three weeks or so before we get back there. Do you know what Mum and Dad start to do in that time? Little by little they start reading their Bible together. The one that is the best reader probably reads to the other, and they mark where we have spoken from so they can read it over again. And here is the best part - before the workers visited those homes, Mum and Dad used to argue and that is not very comfortable. Nobody likes it, but their lives are in turmoil. They are used to arguing and the children suffer. But when the workers start visiting and they read their Bibles together, instead of focusing on each other's faults they start focusing on what they are reading in the Bible and they don't have any interest in fighting. That is the process and, little by little, people receive life. It doesn't need to be complicated and this gospel of Christ works in every part.

I'll tell you a little story. To get to one home, we hiked through the jungle and the mud. It was a poor little home where the family had two girls, one about three and the other still a baby. The whole house was only a bit more than twice the size of this platform I am standing on, but we love going to that home. The little girl had a doll and it was the only thing she owned. She didn't have any other toys, only this doll. The doll was in such bad shape that it was almost unrecognizable as a doll, but she loved it. When she went outside, she had her doll. When she came back in, she had her doll. When she sat to eat, she had her doll and when she went to bed, she had her doll. You children can understand that, can't you? If you had nothing else to play with, you would treasure it. Well, the time came when the little girl got a brand new doll, and you would think, "That's great!" But that is when a time of conflict started. Why? She had become so accustomed to her old doll that she didn't want to put it down, but she also wanted her new doll. She wasn't really big enough to handle both dolls, but she wanted them all the time. Going downstairs was awkward when she was carrying two dolls and coming back up was even more awkward! She just couldn't let go of the old one yet. But finally, she put away her old doll and just played with her new doll.

That little story taught me a bit about what her parents were going through at the same time. When the workers first started coming there, all they had was their own will and their own life, and they treasured them. But during the process of the visits, they were presented with a new life and it was presented to them like a new doll. They accepted it and received it, just like their little girl did with her new doll. At the same time, they were trying to manage both "dolls" and it was very awkward. Finally, just like the little girl, their old "doll" was put away. I think that has happened to every one of us. Maybe those of you who stood for baptism today felt that way up to this time. You had made your choice but were still hanging on to the old "doll." Maybe that is what has brought you to the decision to be baptized because now all you want is the will of God.

Now I would like to teach you a little bit about the brothers and sisters of Jesus. I have met some of you children already and asked your name, and how many brothers and sisters you have, and their names. If I ask you how many brothers and sisters Jesus had, what would you tell me? If I ask you what their names were, could anybody tell me? If you ask your parents, could they tell me? You ask them after the meeting! For your parents, I will tell you where they are written, because sometimes us older ones don't have such good memories. Jesus had four brothers and we don't know how many sisters, likely three or more. We have the names of His brothers but we don't know the names of His sisters. The brothers' names are James, Joses, Simon, and Judas.

Matthew 13:54 tells us that when Jesus went to His own home area, the people started to say, "Isn't this man from here? Don't we know His father and mother, and His brothers and sisters?" Verse 55, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren James and Joses and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?" It mentions all His sisters, so I think there would be at least three. Maybe you would like to know a little bit about the brothers and sisters of Jesus? First of all, when Jesus began to be a worker, they weren't professing. If your Mum and Dad want to read it later in John 7, it tells us that they weren't believers. Jesus went up to the feast and His brothers heard about the miracles He did. They said, "Why don't you go up and show people all these things You can do?" John 7:4, "If Thou do these things, show Thyself to the world. For neither did His brethren believe in Him." They weren't professing then. Maybe some of your brothers and sisters are not professing? He just said, "You go ahead, the world cannot hate you but it hates Me. You are of the world and it won't hate you." Later, He went up to the feast.

Matthew 12:47, one day, Jesus was preaching in a meeting like this and His mother and brothers came there. If His brothers were professing, I don't think anything would be recorded here, but when people don't understand about the things of God, they don't mind interrupting. It seems like the brothers said, "Tell Jesus we are here to see Him," and He was speaking! When they sent somebody in, Jesus just looked over the crowd and said, "You are my brothers and sisters." In other words, "My brothers and sisters don't believe in the things of God yet and you mean more to me than they do." He wasn't despising His mother in any way, and I think Mary would agree and think, "Maybe this is the best thing for my other sons to hear." That wasn't the end of the story of Jesus' brothers and that is the nice part about it. Sometime, we don't know when, at least two of His brothers professed. They were met together in a meeting. For your parents, it is written in Acts 1:13, "They went into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James."

1 Corinthians 9:5 is where you read about two of His brothers not just professing, but two became workers. Galatians 1:19, "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother." One of them became an elder worker, and his name was James.

If there is something your parents don't understand in this meeting, you can help then tonight. When we preach the gospel, we love to have the children attentive like you have been in this meeting. You are the hope of the kingdom and we appreciate you, and if you have learned the names of the four brothers of Jesus, I will be very, very happy!